Fifteen Alcalá women, who have all been unemployed for some time, have something to celebrate this week. They have been selected to take part in a nine-month training programme on basic restaurant and bar skills, comprising six months' theory followed a further three months' work experience in local businesses. During that time they will receive a grant of €400 a month. At the end of the period they will get a certificate (but no guarantee of a job).
A further 125 Alcalá residents considered "at risk of social exclusion", including some with physical or mental disabilities) will get help from coordinators who will liaise with local businesses to find them placements according to their abilities.
|The Chosen Few (plus a handful of politicians)|
This project, known as CRECE-Empleo, is being funded 80% by the European Social Fund and 20% by the Diputación de Cádiz. It is part of a further injection of EU funds to help the chronic unemployment situation in Spain. €16 million was allocated to the Province of Cádiz, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country (more than one in three people are out of work). This was distributed amongst the 44 municipalities in the province and Alcalá was awarded €82,169. Province-wide, the project should help nearly 2,000 people, as well as providing temporary work for co-ordinators and trainers.
The training programmes and participants are determined by the Ayuntamientos (town halls), identifying local needs and liaising with the private sector and non-profit organisations. Hospitality training was chosen for Alcalá because of plans to open a new service area next to La Palmosa industrial estate on the A381. This will be run by the hotel and catering group Grupo Abades, who operate a chain of roadside service stations across the country. There is no information yet on when this will open, though they appear to have started levelling the land.
|Abades service area at Puerta de Andalucía, Jaén|
Some might question whether taxpayers' money should be spent on providing local businesses with unpaid labour in their bars and kitchens (what will happen to their existing staff, most of whom aren't on secure contracts?) or subsidising the training costs of profitable national chains. But for these fifteen women, desperately hoping for a decent future, this opportunity has to be a step in the right direction.